Friday, 15 July 2016

Article published in Manchester Evening News 15 July 2016

A MUSICAL exchange for young orchestral players that began in Bolton 30 years ago reaches its triumphant milestone at the Royal Northern College of Music on July 19.

The International Youth Philharmonic is the name of the project, which began in 1986 as a cultural exchange, with student musicians staying with each other’s families in Bolton, Paderborn (in Germany) and Le Mans (in France). Its 30th anniversary concert will have the same programme as the first one did: Walton’s Crown Imperial coronation march, Ravel’s Bolero and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1.

Caroline Baxendale, head of Bolton Music Service and the Greater Manchester Manchester Music Hub based there – who was awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours this year – told me:

“We will form an orchestra of around 120 players from Paderborn and Bolton (Le Mans dropped out after the first six years of the exchange, but there are hopes of including them again eventually).

“The students from Paderborn come here and spend a week in Bolton rehearsing for the concert – usually held in Bolton itself – then on the day after they all go on the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and travel to Paderborn to give the concert there.” This year it will be the opening event of the traditional Libori Festival there, which dates back nearly 1,200 years.

Caroline Baxendale was herself one of the violinists in the Bolton Youth Orchestra back in 1986 and took part in the exchange then, and other musicians who teach for the Music Service now were originally members of the exchange orchestra as students. Other former members have gone further afield, including one who is now principal horn of the San Francisco Philharmonic.

“You don’t get many exchange projects of any kind that have been running for 30 years,” she says. “It’s an inspiring experience and helps students to find a real love for orchestral music. And it involves the wider community, too, as they stay with the families of their counterparts in each host town.

“New generations have the chance to take part each year, and this year’s student players are really looking forward to it.”

Conductors for the concert are Stuart Hazelton, from the Bolton end, and Jürgen Boelsen from Paderborn, who will share duties in both venues. The performance is at 7pm in the Royal Northern College of Music concert hall.

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